It’s not going to be a cakewalk for Kansas in the Big 12 after all, as Texas found the perfect formula to halt Andrew Wiggins and the Jayhawks, while continuing to surprise everyone with their very young team that’s playing a lot better than the age of their players suggests.
A 81-69 win handed Kansas their 1st conference loss this season. Texas played some excellent defense that forced Kansas to shoot only 38.5% from the field incluing a 2-of-12 day for Andrew Wiggins, who continued to struggle in half-court offense, something that has been issue for him during his freshman year.
Texas went into the game holding their Big 12 opponents to only 37.1% from the field in half-court offense but were giving up 57% shooting in transition. So they forced Kansas to play slow and to shoot from the outside, cancelling out their usual big advantage in the paint (37.3 points in the paint per game). By turning the ball over only 11 times and getting a total of 12 blocks, including 4 from Cameron Ridley, 4 from Prince Ibeh and 3 from Jonathan Holmes, the paint was a no-fly zone for Kansas.
We’ve got pretty good momentum. We’ve got to keep it going. Coach told us to keep our foot on their throat and don’t let up. I tried to box Wiggins out every opportunity. Cam and Prince were scaring him and he was settling for jump shots. We’re a good team, but it’s such a fine line between winning and losing. If you start drinking the poison, it will all get away from you.
Offensively, Isaiah Taylor (23 points) and Jonathan Holmes (22 points) were setting the tone, getting 19 rebounds on offense (Kansas had 17), kept on attacking the basket on every opportunity they could which sent them to the line 45 times. They only hit 66.7% of their shots, but Wiggins picked up 5 fouls while five more players finished with 4 personal fouls. At some point, even the deepest team in College Basketball couldn’t come up with an answer to that kind of basketball.
As most know Bill Self, he wasn’t about to feel sorry for the kids he’s coaching or make any excuses.
I thought our big guys played pretty soft. We didn’t do a good job attacking the rim like we should. Their speed offset our length.
Like every team in the nation, Kansas have a weakness or two if not more. Their incredible individual talent does have a good head coach calling the shots, but there’s an issue with their speed and ball movement. Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid attacking the rim works on most, but not against a well prepared plan to make the most of Kansas’ faults.
Texas have shown in their six-game winning streak, which has come against four ranked teams (Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor and now Kansas) that another team in a very deep conference needs to be accounted for, and that even though they missed the NCAA tournament last season AND had their top four scorers leave the team between the seasons, Rick Barnes still knows what he’s doing and has what it takes to turn this program around and make it a powerhouse in the conference, or at least a force to be reckoned with, once again.